Mark King / Design & Art Direction

Culture hungry

One of the best things about London are the small, independent galleries that punch way above their weight. The Simon Oldfield Gallery is certainly one of these and, with its first solo exhibition by Jonathan Trayte, it's currently serving up food for thought.

The gallery is in a fantastic, historic space in the heart of Covent Garden – well worth a visit for the building alone. The new exhibition by Trayte is deceptively simple. One of those classic creative ideas that manages to be pure and elegant and yet be wrapped in complex layers of meaning.

Detailed bronze sculptures of food and fruit painted with colours and textures that counter their original forms. A tower of eclairs that have the powdery pink finish of delicate meringue. They are shaped like eclairs but look, if you pressed them, like the delicate surface would crumble and crack. Yet you know they are actually cold, hard metal. I know it's against every gallery rule to touch the art but, here, the temptation was too much. Can they really be hard bronze? Surely not.

Ultra-glossy, sexually suggestive fruits and crumbling, matt, iced chocolate cakes and even a huge chunk of gold-plated butchers meat. All are loaded with suggestion and innuendo about sex and desire, false-surface and denial. Seductive lies that are ultimately heavy and cold. Trayte has managed to produce objects that evoke all this yet still manage to be something that meaningful art rarely is nowadays – fun.

Jonathan Trayte Under a Pine Tree. Until 23 April 2011.
Simon Oldfield Gallery 9 Henrietta Street, London, WC2E 8PW.

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